Former Caps defenseman John Erskine didn't get the best goodbye in team...
Penguins Leave Bears Chilly, Serve Up Outdoor Classic Loss
This marked Dany Sabourin’s third career appearance at a professional outdoor game – and his first as the starting goaltender (All Photos Credit: M. Richter).
In the grand history of Outdoor and Winter Classics, Sunday’s event falls somewhere in the categories of understated, classy*, and chilly. It’s the only outdoor game on the docket this year, and Hershey put on a good show despite being overshadowed by the return of the NHL. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins may have stolen the game with a 2-1 finish 1:19 into the extra frame, but both teams put in a respectable showing for the 17,000+ fans in attendance.
*It’s important to note that classy is a relative term, here – Mike Green was the one who performed the ceremonial puck drop, long hair and all…
By the Numbers:
3 Goals (Hershey, WBS, WBS-in-Overtime)
While Hershey was first on the board (Tomas Kundratek, with help from Jeff Taffe and Jon DiSalvatore – 15:40 in the second period), it was no surprise that things went to overtime after the Baby Pens evened things up midway through the third (Riley Holzapfel, assisted by Paul Thompson & Zach Sill at 7:47). Both teams sit near the playoff bubble in the East (currently 7th and 10th), and the guaranteed point earned by forcing overtime was too good to pass up by taking high-risk chances as the clock wound down.
Once the fabled third point had been guaranteed for the loser, things sped up again, and WBS ended the “free hockey” just 1:19 after it began – Thompson, assisted by Jayson Megna and Joey Mormina.
4 Penalties (2 Power Plays, 1 Fight)
In contrast to the usual encounters between the long-time rivals, the Outdoor Classic saw a grand total of four penalties assessed. To be fair to the officials, the windchill bordered on freezing (0C/32F) by the time the second period got underway, so nobody was lodging complaints when minor infractions were overlooked. Of the four penalties on the books, two resulted in power plays – one per team.
Hershey’s Cam Schilling was called for boarding :57 into the second period, after a hit that left a Penguin down on the ice for several moments. Six minutes later, Steve Oleksy and Dominik Uher dropped the gloves on the prerequisite tussle of the evening. Points to both for theatrical presentation and endurance. To round out the period, Penguin Bobby Farnham earned himself a goaltender interference call with just under four minutes left before the second intermission.
2 Good Goalies
Both Dany Sabourin (18-of-20) and Jeff Zatkoff (24-of-25) had a hand in the evening’s journey to the land of frozen overtime. While it was Zatkoff’s first appearance in a ‘Classic’, Sabourin can claim more experience with the outdoor events than any other goalie in the league at this point. Prior to this year’s event, he served as back-up to Marc-Andre Fleury at the 2008 Winter Classic (while a member of the Penguins organization) and Braden Holtby in the 2012 AHL Outdoor Classic in Philadelphia.
For those who were not able to see the game – either by virtue of living in the DC area or an overwhelming interest in the sport of American Football – we’ll have a photo gallery from the Outdoor Classic going up somewhere in the next few days.